By Steven Wandling
In the mood for a stylized action-thriller that feels pulled straight from Cinemax circa 1996? Harley Wallen’s Eternal Code, though flawed, is worth a visit. The scifi-action hybrid’s basic plot sounds like a Twilight Zone episode on paper and attempts to raise a warning flag against for-profit corporate science run afoul. The film doesn’t dive deeper than an episode of Tales From The Crypt in that regard, but, it doesn’t really have to either. Wallen, working behind and in front of the camera, focuses more on delivering an effective thriller, the highlight being the performance of the film’s villains.
Eternal Code suffers in part from a running time that’s simply too long for the material at hand. I love a good slow burn as much as the next person, but there isn’t anything in the first 40 minutes of this nearly two hour film that isn’t expressed in the opening scene. The film’s central protagonist, Corey (Damien Chinappi), portrays a homeless veteran that’s on the verge of suicide. If the movie were to have spent time fleshing him out in an interesting way, perhaps it would justify the time we spend simply getting to know the character. Instead, there’s too many unnecessary scenes featuring a character any audience knows they are supposed to relate to showing us just how relatable they are.
Don’t give up hope just yet, though, as the bad guys are coming to save the day. Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down, There’s Something About Mary) excels as corporate sleazebag Oliver, destined to get his hands on a new technology that transports the human brain into younger, healthier bodies. Tyson takes relish in the relentless devious nature of the character and steals every scene that he’s in. It’s also always a pleasure to see Yan Birch (The People Under The Stairs), this time as scientist Magnus, working under Oliver to bring this new technology to the rich and powerful thirsting after a fountain of youth.
Playing god is always a risky gamble, however, and Oliver has to figure out how to get past the power of his superior, Bridget’s, (Erika Hoveland), veto vote. A unanimous consensus is required and she is the sole hold out, trying to keep the moral compass of her late father’s company intact under her watch. Bridget has met her match as Oliver is beyond scrupulous and lacks any sort of morality whatsoever. He gleefully bullies, threatens, and outright kills anyone who stands in the way of fulfilling his mission of transferring his consciousness into a younger more attractive host.
Eternal Code really takes off when Oliver hires a team of contract “extractors” to kidnap Bridget and her entire family at gunpoint to keep her from blocking the forced vote Oliver is putting to the board in her absence. There’s some great visual moments during the kidnapping of Bridget and her husband Mark (Billy Wirth), like the out the second story window shot of the killers approaching the house, guns drawn, sporting some pretty creepy masks. Bridget’s daughter Miranda (Angelina Daniella Cama) manages to escape certain doom just in the nick of time and flees to the protection of new found “friend of the family” Corey, the homeless vet with the heart of gold that’s about to throw a serious wrench in Oliver and company’s plans.
Eternal Code‘s strongest moments come from the squad of killers as they try to both deal with maintaining control of Bridget and Mark while also searching for Miranda. Scout-Taylor-Compton (Halloween) gives a standout performance as Charlie, a ruthless kidnapper. She berates and beats Bridget and Mark without any hesitation and owns every single moment she’s on screen. My only complaint is that I wish there was more time with her as her talents shine through her all too brief appearance.
Director Harley Wallen is also quite capable of holding his own onscreen as Sam, the killer who has the most presence and comes face to face with the heroic Corey in the Eternal Code‘s final moments. He carries with him an all-business practicality that underscores the heinous act that he’s carrying out. The portrayal goes hand in hand with Oliver’s corporate greed and the idea that the ends always justify the means and anything can be justified in the name of greed. Eternal Code is at its best when it focuses on the bad guys, including evil scientist Nikita (Vida Ghaffari) who has diabolical plans of her own.
Eternal Code isn’t a perfect film by any means. There are moments of continuity error and sometimes the film’s budget is all too obvious in the final product. There’s more to love than to hate for fans of action and pulpy science fiction, though mileage will vary. The film’s strengths lie in the aforementioned performances of the villains, who are all in their own way quite adept at making an audience root for the bad guy. Harley Wallen also shows a capable skill behind the camera, providing plenty of eye catching cinema to pair up with the delicious villainy on display.
Thanks so much for reading. Eternal Code is now available for rent through Amazon Prime. Check it out and share this with your action loving friends! Follow creepylovely on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you would like to write for us just shoot us a private message or DM on social media. Stay lovely! Stay creepy!